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Courts adjust to help slow spread of coronavirus

Just like every other aspect of life is being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, federal, state and local courts are taking special precautions to slow the spread of illness.

The New York State Unified Court System issued a memorandum announcing that civil jury trials where opening statements have not commenced will be postponed until further notice.

Civil jury trials that have already started will continue until they are concluded. Criminal jury trials will continue where jeopardy has attached. And no new criminal jury trials will be started.

All non-essential state court functions were postponed as of 5 p.m. Monday.

Outside New York City, all town and village court cases will be adjourned for 45 days and special courts are being established in various jurisdictions for emergency proceedings. In the Seventh Judicial District the special courts are designated as follows:

  • Monroe County Court and Rochester City Court will continue to operate in the Hall of Justice.
  • In Ontario County, the special courts will be located at the Ontario County Courthouse in Canandaigua and at the centralized arraignment part at the Ontario County Jail.
  • In Erie County, the special court will be at Erie County Courthouse in Buffalo.

Federal courts also are taking action as a result of the outbreak. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr. issued a general order including the following provisions:

  • Civil jury trials and grand jury selection in the District will continue for 60 days.
  • Geraci’s order encouraged judges to reduce personal appearances as much as possible.
  • Geraci’s order does not affect a judge’s consideration of civil or criminal motions that can be resolved without oral argument or personal appearances.
  • No naturalization proceedings will be conducted in the Western District for the next 60 days.
  • Geraci gave the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services the authority to perform administrative naturalization ceremonies for the next 60 days.
  • And, if possible, attorney admissions can take place via video conference.

The Rochester and Buffalo courthouses will remain open. Staff in the court clerk’s office will be available by telephone, mail will be received, and intake desks will be open for filings.

Monroe County Bar Association (MCBA) officials started limiting access to their offices on Monday.

“The MCBA remains open for business on a virtual basis and many committee and section meetings will proceed remotely, by video or conference call,” MCBA officials explained in an email sent to the legal community.

To find out if a meeting has been cancelled, or to get connection information, call the MCBA at (585) 546-1817, or email them at

Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs will not meet at the Telesca Center. All CLEs will be available remotely as live webinars.

Anybody who has already registered for an upcoming CLE will have their registration changed to the webinar option and they will receive details on how to access the program. / (585) 232-2035